Knight & Dragon is a full colour comic book with a twist from Improper Books. The bar was set high by Improper in 2013 with Butterfly Gate – a “silent” sci-fi that threw a brother and sister into a tough sci-fantasy world.
Knight & Dragon is also “silent”. That’s to say there’s no written dialogue; the story is told only through pictures. That’s not the twist. The twist is that you can read this comic book from different points of view. You could read from the Knight’s point of view, the Dragon’s point of view or one of the other characters. It is more than the point of view that changes too; although the story starts the same by putting the spotlight on different characters you will influence the outcome and there are different endings.
So, how does a book manage to do this? You may well remember Fighting Fantasy or similar “choose your own” adventure books? Knight & Dragon is similar. There’s no choice to make beyond picking a character to follow as once that’s done you just have to follow the colour coding associated with that character and flick to the right page in the book. If you’re reading an electronic version of the comic book then keep this in mind; I left the Kindle-PDF experience on Nexus 7 is favour of reading it in Acrobat Reader on my desktop so I could point and click at the page number choices. It was a good move by Improper Books to include the point and click option for page selection too. Knight & Dragon is a technologically advanced book.
Written by Matt Gibbs, illustrated by Bevis Musson and with colours by Nathan Ashworth, Knight & Dragon is simple but strong story. At least, it would be “simple” if it was just one story but the clever way it begins to fragment into different possible futures as you read on suggests Gibbs is something of a master story weaver.
The set-up is familiar; a knight rides into town and soon finds himself needing to quest against a ferocious dragon in order to rescue the fair maiden. There’s enough in the plot to hold my interest but I got most out of Knight & Dragon by going back to the start, picking a different character and discovering where (and why) the story started to take a different twist.
Whereas I enjoyed Knight & Dragon I wonder if I’d read a sequel. Actually, could there be a sequel on a book that offers different endings? Probably not. Perhaps a better question is; would I seek out a similar “mildly interactive” alternative ending story? I don’t think I would. I would, however, read another choose your own comic book if the plot looked good enough. I think this is proof that it doesn’t matter how clever the technology is; it doesn’t make the book. A good story makes a book. In Knight & Dragon you’ve got a good story and if you’re the type who wants to support the dragon then you can.
My copy of Knight & Dragon was provided for review. RRP £8.99, Improper Books, Matt Gibbs, Bevis Musson and Nathan Ashworth.